Let’s see if I can make this first post interesting. How about a tube-Ge-Si scope?

Last week, I visited a local TV/radio tower. While it was a very interesting trip (I’ll get a post up about it soon enough), the best part was of course the fact that they were cleaning out all their old analogue transmission gear, and were more than happy to give away everything that’d otherwise end up as scrap.

One of those things was a Tektronix RM-529 waveform monitor for video signals. While it is somewhat useless as a scope, it’s a very cool design, integrating both vacuum tubes, germanium transistors, and silicon transistors into the design.

Front view

At a glance, it looks like pretty much any other scope, right? It’s only when you look closer that you see that the knobs aren’t labeled trig, scale and so on, but rather various TV-related words. (I’m not sure if you can enlarge the image. I hope you can. You can.) I must say that this made me a bit disappointed when I saw it, as I had hoped that it was a normal scope, a thing which I’m in dire need of and too cheap to purchase new. Perhaps I’ll get to modifying this guy some time in the future.

A glimpse of the insides

Moving the camera up a notch reveals the third dimension of the CRT, as well as the tube-transistor innards. I love how, even though they’ve used PCB in it, they decided to put the transistors in sockets. I mean, how often do you see little teeny weeny TO-92s in sockets? Not in your average Philips TV, I can tell you that.

In my opinion, this is the best angle.

From this angle, you can see the humongous switches that go to the front by huge aluminium rods. I like how they’ve put calibration potentiometers soldered onto other potentiometers! There is also a large cooler on the back, that I can’t really see the point of, since it doesn’t even get warm in the slightest. Props to Tektronix, it’s just built to last.

A closer look

The switches, from left to right: Vertical scale selector and adjustment, frequency filter/display filter selector switch, source selector.

This one speaks for itself.
Components. Hundreds of them.

That’s some service-friendliness, right there. Just to warm up and pick up any part you want. The solder job is beautiful, and not a single one has even showed any signs of failing, even after forty years of use. The whole thing is put together with beautiful silver solder joints, and the components are tucked tight in place.

(And please don’t comment on my beautiful connection. I didn’t have any fitting plugs, alright?)

They mean it.

You know you’re dealing with something good, if you actually get a roll of spare solder inside the case. I’m in awe. You get a freaking roll of solder inside the case, just so you don’t have to go out and buy any special such. They could easily sell it as an expensive spare part, but instead they give it to you for no extra charge. That’s some serviceability I’d love to see in more things, especially in today’s world of cheap lead-free solder joints that fail before you can say “curse you, ROHS!”

That was the last picture, and all I can say (and I hope you can agree with me), is “thumbs up to Tektronix!” They’ve created a rather unique product, that despite its odd design has survived the test of time without even requiring anybody to use the spare roll of solder.

Moving on, I think this post demonstrates quite well how I’d like the contents of this blog to look like. If you like what you just saw, stick around. There’s more to come.


3 thoughts on “Let’s see if I can make this first post interesting. How about a tube-Ge-Si scope?

  1. Years ago I found some huge Tek rack mount signal generators in a neighbor’s trash. They were older than your gear and used point to point wiring since it was all tube. They had a small roll of the silver solder tucked inside the cabinet along with a note stating that use of normal lead solder would contaminate the joint and lead to premature failure.

  2. My first job as ET on the last Tek tube product: 529 Waveform Monitor. Flawless…
    Tektronix makes everything in the 529 but the screws, wire, nuts, vacuum tubes, resistors and caps. Saw the production of the 529 CRT at the Beaverton plant; Best in the business. ie: Sony-Tek; TV Monitor CRTs. Before or after, epic resources of the human spirit & technology, Tektronix stands alone: Committed to Excellence to my Tek gen ~ Electronic Tech, TV Products, Beaverton, OR: 1974 = 4,600 total employees. Mass Storage Design Engineer / Mass Storage Technology Engineering, Information Display Products, Wilsonville, OR: 1981 = 20,000 total employees. Biggest Best of the West ~ Thanks Tek!
    The Wiz Kid ~ Richard Conant

    Design team: Tek 4052 on TV Series Battlestar Tekronixa…

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